Raw power, primal energy and an aggressive, powerful frontperson aren’t often associated with the with the well-constructed world of mainstream music, but it was nice to see these energies well and truly alive at Moana’s E LIX A single launch at The Aardvark last Friday.
Local psychedelic pop group, Post Depression Makeout Session brought a spacey and warm tone to the open the night. Singer Shaquille Blackley delivers dreamy, squealed vocals nestled in a wall of syrupy guitar and synth echoes. Their set demonstrated the continuing evolution of the band’s sound from the rather poppy and funky 2017 single, My Daughter, the Water, to their latest release, the much more introspective and ethereal, Atrophy. The pleasant and inviting heatwave-fever-dream psychedelic atmosphere of the performance was a nice contrast to the 2.5-degree chill outside.
Moana’s second support Shaus upped the ante with a heavy and aggressive set. As the underground venue continued to fill, distorted guitars and the gravelly, soaring vocals of the band’s fierce frontman Brandon Wilks presented a sound that was driven, aggressive and left you needing a quiet sit down to take a breath by the set’s conclusion. This was followed up with a fuzzy instrumental set from psychedelic rockers, Giant Dwarf, who were greeted by an increasingly energetic and lively crowd.
Moana delivered a captivating set. Their combination of heavy psychedelic rhythm and the primal lyricism of lead singer Moana Mayatrix had the audience of the packed bar captivated from the beginning. Mayatrix presents herself as part PJ Harvey, part Patti Smith, part Jim Morrison and part otherworldly spirit as she chanted and moves about on the stage as if in some kind of transfixing shamanic ritual. She was raw, transgressive and also a little bit terrifying.
Recent singles, The Cultess and Dracula were well received by the crowd, with the latest release, E LIX A continuing the band’s unique blend of the psychedelic, experimental, heavy rock that has already amassed a loyal group of devout followers.
The four-piece delivered a set that was powerful and otherworldly. Walking past the unassuming chatter and bustle at the old Norfolk in the freezing Fremantle air last Friday night and down the stairs into the warmly lit subterranean basement of the Aardvark felt a little bit like accidentally walking in on some kind of fiery pagan ritual. As the four-piece delivered a set that was both well-delivered and raw, it was so strange and frightening you feel like maybe you shouldn’t be there, yet at the same time so enthralling that you couldn’t look away.
Photos by Ella Wylynko